Town gets ready to pay tribute to Coulter’s Candy

A final appeal is being made to relatives of Robert Coltart, after an appeal to find people related to the writer of the lullaby Ally Bally Bee.

A sculpture in Galashiels dedicated to 19th century weaver-turned sweetmaker Coltart is to be revealed on Friday 20 September, with Innerleithen sculptor Angela Hunter putting the final touches to the Coulter’s Candy artwork.

The finished piece is to be installed in the Market Square in Galashiels, as part of a new town trail project led by Scottish Borders Council and supported by the Scottish Government, who provided a £1.18million grant last year to help fund a number of regeneration projects in the town.

As part of the project, local schools took part in a Coulter’s Candy inspired design competition which will see six artworks by pupils displayed on flagpole banners across the town centre ahead of the unveiling.

The same pupils will also be involved in the 20 September ceremony, tying coloured ribbons to the sweet tray on the statue to recreate how Robert Coltart advertised his products as he travelled around the town and the Scottish Borders.

Angela Hunter, who is originally from Galashiels, local historians Mary Craig and Graeme McIver and local Councillor Sandy Aitchison have all championed Coltart’s story alongside Helen Calder of the Energise Galashiels Trust, leading to the idea of a permanent tribute.

The design for the tribute was approved by the Galashiels Stakeholder Group earlier this year and will see sculptures of a boy and girl added by the end of 2019. An interpretation panel will also be installed.

Graeme McIver said: ‘I am delighted that after a lot of hard work by a number of people and organisations that we are now ready to unveil a permanent tribute to one of Galashiels’ most flamboyant characters.

‘Robert Coltart moved to Galashiels as a young man and sold his boiled sweets around the town and across the Scottish Borders at fairs and festivals.

‘He lived with his wife and children in various locations within the town, including a flat in Overhaugh Street which is include in the new town trail.

‘He would dress in a variety of colourful clothes, and sang his much loved lullaby song to help advertise his wares.

‘We have already spoken to a number of family relatives of Robert Coltart, but would love to have more of his relations present at the sculpture unveiling to help us celebrate his story.

‘We hope this tribute will help promote Galashiels to visitors and increase the awareness and pride amongst local people in the Coulter’s Candy story.’

The pupils to win the Coulter’s Candy design competition were: Kaitlyn Martin and Isla Train (Glendinning Primary); Joe Dunkerley, Ellie Cockburn and Atom McCulloch (St Peter’s Primary); Emma McCall, Amelita Solokovas and Nicole Handa (Burgh Primary); Maisie Pringle and Malina Corrin (Balmoral Primary); Sophie Wood (Langlee Primary); and Callum Crooks, Maha Kellezli and William Scott (Galashiels Academy).

Helen Calder of Energise Galashiels Trust, added: ‘We felt it was important to have young people involved in the Coulter’s Candy celebrations, which is why we launched the banner competition.

‘We are delighted to be able to show their final designs across the town, which will aim to also advertise the presence of the new statue and town trail as one of a number of exciting projects being taken forward in Galashiels.’

The funding from the Scottish Government is also supporting new visitor signage and improvements to Channel Street and Douglas Bridge, as well as helping to fund the Great Tapestry of Scotland visitor attraction.

Scottish Borders Council’s executive member for Business and Economic Development, Councillor Mark Rowley, said: ‘The Coulter’s Candy project has been a real partnership between the council and the community which is part of an overall plan to regenerate Galashiels into a visitor destination.

‘This partnership work will continue to ensure Galashiels is ready to grasp the opportunities presented by the Borders Railway and arrival of the Great Tapestry of Scotland visitor attraction – which helped secure the overall support from the Scottish Government Regeneration Grant Fund.’

Any relatives who wish to come along to the unveiling are asked to email Graeme McIver –